How many times, while commiserating with someone around a heartache, have you heard yourself say, "Join the club."
It's a fairly common figure of speech. Unfortunately it has also been adopted by the federal and state governments to refer to job search support groups.
I'm sorry, guys, but these groups are not clubs.
No one, and I repeat NO ONE, who is out of work wants to join a club.
Rather, they want a job.
If a support group will help them get a job, fine. Sign up! But do not call it a club, for goodness sake.
What's the alternative? You've heard the old expression that "There is strength in numbers." For a job seeker or career changer, this means, Don't go it alone. Instead, band together with others and the strengths multiply!
Let me illustrate this with some local examples.
Job Search Support Groups abound throughout our central New Jersey area. Some are church-based, such as the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset (started by John Radvanski and me in 2007) and the St. Rose of Lima Transition Network in Freehold. The Jewish Family Service of Central NJ (in Elizabeth and Union) is also very active in helping job hunters. These faith-based initiatives are practical ministries driven by the desire to help one's fellow man or woman. Though sponsored by faith-based organizations, the resources of these groups are available to all.
Some other job search support groups revolve around an occupational affinity such as FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group) or MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). In the spirit of these memorable acronyms, there is YANG (Yet Another Networking Group) in Ocean county.
Some job search support groups meet at local libraries like the Neighbors Helping Neighbors groups which John Fugazzie started in northern NJ. Others like The Career Forum (in Basking Ridge) and The Breakfast Club (in East Brunswick) were started by job seekers who wanted to help other job seekers.
NJ-based career coach Alex Freund has done a fine job of maintaining an up-to-date list at his website.
The NJ State Libraries have also stepped up to the challenge of helping job hunters. Through the statewide NJ Works program, where librarians have been specially trained and certified to assist job seekers in research, resume writing and other tasks associated with the job search, those who are out of work in NJ can now go to a local library for the expert support they may need.
The Professional Service Groups (aka the PSGs) are a network of job search support groups, from Dover up north to Vineland down south, that were originally started by the State of New Jersey but mysteriously stopped a short time ago. Begun in 1989, the PSGs are self-managed groups of business and technical professionals who are helping one another through their career transitions. Their aim is to be One-Stop Centers for anyone who is out of work and seeking networking, job leads, and job search skills training. What makes the PSGs unique is that they are self-managed and highly organized by the members. The job seekers themselves do everything, and everyone serves on a committee, such as Publicity, Training, Programming, or Marketing.
Since the State of NJ pulled the plug on the PSGs, several of them have reinvented themselves as free-standing support groups. The Central NJ group in Somerville, under the guidance of Ken Hitchner, is a standout.
Here is their website link: http://psgcnj.org/
So, if you are looking for work, and you don't live close to any of the above resources, what can you do? You can start your own group! Chances are, there are others near you who are also looking for work. You can get started right away with the help of a guide that Janice Lee Juvrud and I wrote a few years back. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy.
All it takes is for one job seeker to reach out to another one and ask, "When can we meet?" And then "Who else should we invite to meet with us?" You can start at a local library or church meeting room or even a Starbucks. And take it from there.
In the State of New Jersey, you do not have to go it alone when looking for work.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday September 17, 2013.
Terrence H. Seamon is an organization development consultant who provides leadership and team development services to employers in New Jersey. His book Lead the Way explores the challenges of leadership. Additionally, Terry is a job search and career coach whose book To Your Success provides a motivational guide for anyone in transition. His third book, Change for the Better (forthcoming), will provide leaders with a guide to navigating through organizational change. An alumnus of PSG, Terry co-founded and co-moderates the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ. He can be reached at email@example.com and via his website: http://about.me/terrenceseamon